Islam and Anthropology
Cross-listed as REL346 / ANTH346 / ASST346 / ARAB280
This is not the current course catalog
If anthropology has helped to define Islam in global thought, Islam has returned the favor, holding a critical mirror to the anthropological endeavor perhaps more than any other traditional “object” of study. This course examines anthropological studies of Islamic societies for what they teach us both about Islam and about anthropology. We begin with foundational social theorists whose studies of religious phenomena helped give rise to the field of anthropology of religion. We then survey influential efforts to construct “ideal-type” models of Muslim society based on anthropological and historical knowledge, alongside efforts to critique, historicize, and redirect the model-building project (notably by Talal Asad and Edward Said). The second half of the course is devoted to ethnographies that explore, from a variety of perspectives and in several regions (Morocco, India, Egypt, Syria), questions of human agency, hierarchy and resistance, and Islam as discursive resource, ethical project, and embodied community.
The Class: Type: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly postings, one 5-page paper, one 10-page paper, discussion leading
Enrollment Preference: juniors and seniors, Anthropology, Sociology or Religion majors
Distributions: Division II;